Helping Older Adults Avoid the Valentine’s Day Blues
Memories of handing out Valentines to your friends in school can warm your heart. But as we age, Valentine’s Day may become a more challenging holiday. Especially for older adults who have lost a spouse or have been single for a long duration, Valentine’s Day can be accompanied by feelings of loneliness or depression. There are ways to help a loved one feel special and embrace this day of love again.
As an older loved one ages, their social circle may become smaller due to friends moving away, their own faltering mobility or when peers pass away. According to the National Poll on Healthy Aging, in 2023, one in three adults between the ages of 50-80 said they felt isolated from others in the past year. Social isolation can result in emotional distress including depression and anxiety. There are physical components of loneliness as well, including links to heart disease, high blood pressure and obesity. That’s because emotional pain stemming from being lonely activates the body’s stress response system.
How can you help an older adult to mitigate loneliness during Valentine’s Day or any time of the year? Consider these tips for strengthening their social connections and more:
Send a Valentine’s Day card: Remember your loved one with a card for Valentine’s Day. This surprise can brighten their day!
Add calling your loved one to your calendar: As you schedule other important tasks in your life to keep them top of mind, add prompts to your calendar to call your loved one on a regular basis. Ask how they are doing and share an anecdote from your life. This inclusion in your life will make a loved one feel special.
Share your time: If you live locally, schedule some time regularly to visit. Sharing a cup of tea, helping organize a closet or assisting with an errand can be an incredible gift to someone who is feeling lonely.
Encourage activities that bring joy: Hobbies and passion projects can add fullness to a person’s life. Whether your loved one enjoys reading, gardening or playing a musical instrument, help them find ways to explore and deepen that activity, especially if it involves like minded people.
Find volunteer opportunities: If your loved one likes to knit, find a local organization that would benefit from hats, mittens or scarves. Having the opportunity to create and share can be a powerful activity. There’s no better satisfaction and connection to community than helping someone else.
Enlist family members to reach out: Grandchildren can draw pictures and cards, cousins can facetime and family members at a distance could start up a pen pal relationship. This engagement will help your loved one to feel like an active part of the family, especially if mobility is an issue.
Remember, Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to share love of all types, including romantic, friendly and the love you have for your family members. Make the holiday one to remember! CarePatrol celebrates the power of connection and families every day.